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Transforming Digital Strategy

A leading global pharmaceutical company needed to rethink how it approached the ongoing digital revolution. With over $50 billion in annual sales and more than 100,000 employees, key decision makers knew that digital was transforming the way they interacted with patients, providers, and payers. However, many believed the company’s current digital approach was reactive and not strategic.

Given the company’s size, it had multiple ongoing digital initiatives, but uncertainty remained around which digital trends created the greatest threats and opportunities within their industry. Every day new tech-driven entrants joined the field—should the company partner or develop a competing solution? What about big data—after years of significant investment, how could
they leverage its promise to generate consistent returns and shape the business model of the future? Would wearable technology change the nature of the pharmaceutical industry?

In early 2016 the company came to Clarkston Consulting for help creating a strategy that leveraged the ongoing digital revolution to create a sustained advantage in a new business reality.

Digital isn’t one size fits all

In some industries, like entertainment, the impact of the digital revolution is obvious. Consumers watched movies at industry-approved places (movie theaters), bought music after it passed through the industry’s byzantine distribution system, and planned nights around their favorite television shows. Today, most entertainment is available digitally—wherever and whenever the consumer desires. Blockchain’s distributed ledger (the glue behind Bitcoin) has the potential to allow payment systems without financial institutions. In other industries, the revolution is less obvious, but even more transformative.  Digital technology allows oil and gas companies to efficiently analyze datasets composed of a variety of inputs (e.g., seismic reports, images, audio recordings…) to help determine the best and environmentally safest extraction points. Analysts estimate that the digital revolution could have a tremendous impact on the industry, improving production by eight percent.

Digital’s impacts are diverse and sometimes unseen to the casual eye, but the change is almost always radical.

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